Mindfulness in the workplace: a guide for OHS professionals

Mindfulness in the workplace has become a popular way for organisations to help their employees relieve stress and anxiety. However new research has shown it’s also great for productivity, and efficiency.

If you haven’t heard of Mindfulness or weren’t aware of the positive effects it can make to your workplace, in this article we discuss what Mindfulness is and the first steps you can take to introduce it into your workplace.

What is all this mindfulness business?

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Often it is easier to understand mindfulness in terms of what it isn’t; for example that awkward moment you forgot a new colleague’s name the instant they told you, or when you are ‘listening’ to someone while also completing a task at the same time.

Mindfulness is learning to focus on the present as it happens, to stop and pause before you react. This self-regulation can also lead to better focus at work, cooperation with others, self-awareness and self-control.

Let’s practice!

Here are three quick introductory mindfulness exercises for you and your employees to try, as road tested by formerly skeptical GB employees:

  1. Focus: find an object and try to remain focused on just that object for as long as possible. Note when your mind starts to wander and bring it back to the object. The longer you can remain focused, the more your mindfulness will increase.
  2. Technical Reminders: harness your ever present devices to become ‘mindfulness reminders’. When you hear the ring of an incoming call or bleep of a new notification, use it to remind you to be fully present in the now. Before you answer or respond, stop and take a deep breath.
  3. Oh stop it: Teach employees to use the STOP sign technique whenever they feel stressed:
    • Stop what you are doing.
    • Take five deep breaths.
    • Observe your body and notice what you are thinking about.
    • Proceed

There’s also an app for that! Click here to read our recent review of Headspace, the popular app designed to help people train their minds using mindfulness and meditation techniques.

Maintain the Balance

Consider encouraging your employees to use Mindfulness on the commute to and from work, to give over-loaded brains a break. Something as simple as spending a moment looking at the landscape outside the train window, instead of checking emails or ‘wow-ing’ that photo on Facebook, could be the quick refresh everyone needs.

With regular practice of mindfulness exercises, both you and your employees can learn to focus on the present moment, smash that to-do list and deal with life’s challenges with a clear and calm mind.

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